Biomimetic Protocells Featuring Macrophage-Like Capture and Digestion of Protein Pathogens

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



Modern medical research develops interest in sophisticated artificial nano- and microdevices for future treatment of human diseases related to biological dysfunctions. This covers the design of protocells capable of mimicking the structure and functionality of eukaryotic cells. The authors use artificial organelles based on trypsin-loaded pH-sensitive polymeric vesicles to provide macrophage-like digestive functions under physiological conditions. Herein, an artificial cell is established where digestive artificial organelles (nanosize) are integrated into a protocell (microsize). With this method, mimicking crossing of different biological barriers, capture of model protein pathogens, and compartmentalized digestive function are possible. This allows the integration of different components (e.g., dextran as stabilizing block) and the diffusion of pathogens in simulated cytosolic environment under physiological conditions. An integrated characterization approach is carried out, with identifying electrospray ionization mass spectrometry as an excellent detection method for the degradation of a small peptide such as β-amyloid. The degradation of model enzymes is measured by enzyme activity assays. This work is an important contribution to effective biomimicry with the design of cell-like functions having potential for therapeutic action.


Original languageEnglish
Article number2300257
Number of pages9
JournalSmall methods
Issue number12
Early online date20 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2023

External IDs

WOS 001050885100001
PubMed 37599260
ORCID /0000-0002-4482-6010/work/148145825
ORCID /0000-0002-4531-691X/work/148607976


Research priority areas of TU Dresden

Sustainable Development Goals


  • Artificial cells, Artificial organelles, ESI-MS, Esi-ms, Macrophage-like functions, Polymeric vesicles, artificial cells, artificial organelles, macrophage-like functions, polymeric vesicles, Biomimetics/methods, Humans, Artificial Cells/chemistry, Digestion, Macrophages, Proteins/chemistry